Friday, April 30, 2010

Loving Hut

We were encouraged to try Loving Hut by a co-worker’s friend, who had other vegetarian friends in town.  An international vegan restaurant, Loving Hut happens to have two locations right here in Busan.  Along with some of our co-workers and their friends, we dined there for dinner.

Modern and super clean inside, the restaurant featured a TV playing videos on being vegan.  There were also signs persuading the vegan way of life.

The menu included many popular Korean dishes served meatless, as well as some other Asian dishes.  Even faux seafood and meat made from soy protein were meal options.  It was so nice to be able to go to a place and not request “gawgee anio” (no meat) since everything was vegetarian.
For appetizers, the table shared spring rolls and spicy “chicken wings” which were quite good. 

For dinner I got a noodle and veggie stir-fry dish and Ryan tried a tofu soup.

They even had vegetarian kimchi (it’s usually made with oyster sauce) and an artichoke soup (in place of the usual fish soup served with most Korean entrées).

Along with a vegetarian and organic foods section including raisins, maple syrup, tomato sauce, and vegan ramen, a frozen foods section was also available. 

The refrigerator was stocked with “hamburger” patties, “sausage” patties,” and “fish” sticks.  I bought some soy hot dogs but have yet to crack open the bag.

Right around the corner…
Oh, irony.

We recently said goodbye to one of the foreign teachers at our school, and her replacement happens to be a woman who is also a vegetarian!  I’m sure there will be more veggie food to be had between the two of us.  We’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

United Nations Memorial Cemetery

Memorials commemorating the Korean War exist worldwide.  Here in Busan, the local  memorial includes a cemetery where soldiers and medical staff are buried.    
In total, 40,896 people died as a result of the Korean War.  Nearly 36,500 of them were Americans.  Approximately 2,000 Americans rest in the cemetery.  We assume the others were sent home to their families following the war.  The deceased came from 2o other countries as well. 

The cemetery was a beautiful, peaceful space.   
Flags from each country flew high in the sky above their respective country’s plots. 
Beautiful trees, flowers and plants, originating from all over the world contributed to the scenery.  We were glad to see trees!  Busan is seriously lacking in them. 
We wove our way through the cemetery to The Wall of Remembrance.  The Wall listed each and every name of the fallen soldiers and medical staff.
Leading into the Wall’s entrance, a beautiful and fitting quote was engraved in both English and Korean:
The wall formed an enclosure around a pond, whose round shape is meant to signify the Universe.
A helmet statue in the pond represents the War, and the flowers across the pond from the helmet are meant to symbolize sublimation from war to peace.
Finally, a perpetually lit flame (far left in front of the helmet) pays a tribute to the fallen, while simultaneously expressing an eternal wish for worldwide peace.
The names on the Wall were separated by country.  The US had listed each person's name following the state they originated from.  Below Ryan is examining the names from Oregon.

After walking through the cemetery and Remembrance Wall, we passed a small pond and park area.  A few ducks milled around, and Ryan quickly took an interest in examining them.  I think they’d frown on hunting in such a peaceful place.
On our way out we watched a short documentary about the war, which inspired us to delve deeper into Korean history. We also visited a small museum near the entrance, where each memorial was pictured, including this one outside Salem, Oregon.
In the museum we learned there were three women who chose to be buried with their husbands upon their own deaths, some forty years after their husband’s.

The rain held off until the moment we entered the taxi to head out for dinner.  Great timing.  Great day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

An outing with the kiddies

Last Friday morning was a gorgeous sunny day.  (Where has the sun gone now?)  Seeing that it was just too beautiful to be inside, all the kinder classes went for a walk along the same river we walked the previous week.  Here are some of the adorable pictures that were taken during the trip.

The cherry blossoms were still in all their glory, and the kids went wild for them, especially those that had made their way to the ground.  On our way back to school, the piles of fallen blossoms were wildly entertaining.  The children gathered them into their hands and blew them into the air.
It was hard to go back inside.  Hopefully more walks to come.  We are taking a field trip this Friday and will undoubtedly have more pictures to share from that.  What can I say, the kids' cuteness warrants the paparazzi mentality.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A festival blossoms in our backyard

For about two weeks, we had watched from our balcony a lone cherry tree that was blossoming in our neighborhood.  The other trees surrounding it teased us with their buds.  Almost overnight, the whole block and those in close proximity were overrun with blooms. 
 We had seen a banner advertising a festival over the weekend.  (We took a picture of it and a Korean teacher was nice enough to decode it for us).  This was the view as the festival was being set-up.
Hearing the fireworks from our apartment on Friday and seeing the stage, ablaze with announcers and performers, we were almost summoned to check out the party. 
Once we got down to the festival, we saw the typical rice cake vendors we have seen before.  This time however, Korean men were molding them right as they came out of the machine into these odd shapes.
Various types of candy were for sale...
...and there was the roasting pig half.  Mmm Mmm (sarcasm if you couldn't tell).
There was an abundance of other fried carnival type food too.
I even got a whole coconut with a straw to drink the milk. 
The festival stretched across four or five blocks, and along with the vendors, and stage performers, there were rows of restaurants.  There was also this carnival ride.  I highly questioned its safety.
Ryan and I sat down for some dong dong ju (delicious rice wine) and paejon (similar to a potato pancake) filled with egg, green onions, carrots, and squid (on Ryan’s half) shown here being made, and then, as it was served to us.
The restaurants were also offering a variety of other seafood, and sadly, whale meat.   

It seems to be a somewhat common entrée here.  Although it is illegal to hunt whale in Korea, if it's by catch (caught by accident when fishing for something else) people are allowed to keep and sell it.  Coincidentally, Korea has some of the highest whale by catch in the world.  Hmmm.

A dollar store was hidden in the festivity’s maze, and we picked up some exciting items including insulation, and a handle for our sliding patio door.  We also got the plants I mentioned in the last post.

What a wonderful Friday spring evening.  We went back Saturday night for more dong dong ju.  It was so close we just couldn't resist : )